Sri Lanka video contains evidence of war crimes, says ICTY legal expert
[TamilNet, Friday, 03 December 2010, 04:01 GMT]
"This is a very disturbing video and clearly, on the face of it, shows war crimes have been committed and perhaps crimes against humanity, depending on who the group targeted was," said Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association (IBA), after reviewing the execution video broadcast by Channel-4, and added ""[t]here is no question that this video is prima facie evidence that these crimes were committed. And therefore there's a responsibility on the part of the international community to push for an investigation and prosecution."
Ellis further said: "International law is very clear. This does not stop with the soldier. It must move up through command - so cases can be made at the individuals whose faces are shown but also possibly at their commanders if they are military forces."
"Ellis's characterization of Sri Lanka's crimes as possibly constituting crimes against humanity is indeed a welcome commentary by a reputable international expert, as Tamil people have long known the infliction of such systematic aggregious crimes by successive Sinhala Governments on Tamil people to subdue the Tamils to a second class status. It appears that finally, albeit with delay as is expected under the authoritarian rule in Sri Lanka, clear and convincing evidence of grievous crimes committed in violation of international law are surfacing," said spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group.
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. Murder; extermination; torture; rape, political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of falling into the category of crimes under discussion."
In 1999, Mr. Ellis was appointed Legal Advisor to the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, chaired by Justice Richard J. Goldstone. In 2003, he was appointed by OSCE to advise on the creation of Serbia's War Crimes Tribunal. He is presently a member of the Advisory Panel to the Defense Counsel for the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY).
The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies.